HUDSON, MA (Aug. 17, 2011) — For many years, the team of Brian O'Leary (Ponkapoag GC) and Patrick O'Leary (Ponkapoag GC) never had a chance to compete in the Massachusetts Father & Son Championship, but they made their debut one to remember.
Under perfect conditions in Hudson, the duo carded a score of 1-under par 70 to capture the Fordie Pitts, Jr. Junior Division title by two strokes at the 2011 Massachusetts Father & Son Championship held this week at Charter Oak Country Club.
What made the O'Leary's round especially impressive was the fact that they were able to post an even par 36 on the very challenging back nine. That stretch of golf included a birdie-birdie-par-birdie finish.
"Our strategy was that if he hit the fairway with his drive then I would hit the second shot," said Brian, who finished 10th at the 2011 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship. "Every time that he got in trouble, I would hit a solid drive and every time I did that he would hit it onto the green."
On a course that is extremely narrow with trouble surrounding nearly every fairway and green, pinpoint accuracy off the tee was at a premium. The O'Learys were able to do that consistently and make some key putts.
Patrick, a 14 year old who will play for Catholic Memorial High School next fall, got things started on the 401-yard, par 4 15th hole when he sent his 7 iron approach to an inch. On the next hole, Brian returned the favor by draining a 35-foot birdie putt. Then - on the 532-yard, par 5 18th hole - Patrick found the middle of the cup with a 12-foot downhill birdie putt.
"It was a good end to the round," said Patrick. "It's not as easy as it looks to come in even on that back nine. It's difficult and you don't get much roll out of your drives."
Leading up to that finish, the O'Leary's were able to save par on the 403-yard, par 4 12th and 436-yard, par 4 14th holes. Although not as glamorous as the finish, that kept them moving in the right direction and set the tone for the rest of the round.
"It certainly helped," said Patrick. "If we didn't make par there we were heading towards 75 and not 70."
Considering that they did not have a chance to take part in a practice round, there were some tense moments during the first two holes, especially after they suffered a three putt bogey on the 359-yard, par 4 2nd hole.
However, minutes after Patrick missed a three-foot par putt, he sunk a five-foot birdie putt on the 150-yard, par 3 3rd hole to draw back to even par.
"That putt had a lot of break in it," said Brian. "He settled down after that. Sometimes it's the little things. If you do something good early on, it helps your confidence."
After carding another birdie on the 9th hole, the team ran into some trouble by making double bogey on the 10th hole and bogey on the 11th hole. On that 434-yard, par 4 10th hole - which was playing as the hardest hole today - Brian aimed at the wrong tree with his blind approach and watched as his shot hit a cart path and bounced 20 yards over the green.
"We had a terrible lie and were just trying to make bogey on a very difficult hole," said Brian. "[After those two holes], we talked about it on the next tee. We had a good front nine and I said that we were not out of it. If we could make some birdies coming in, we were not out of this."
As the saying goes, father always knows best... and Brian O'Leary was true to his word.
He and his son played near perfect golf from that point on and they were rewarded with their first career MGA Junior Division title.
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